Chloe is overwhelmed by the birth of her first child. The incessant crying of her baby, the growing sense of guilt and paranoia sends her into depression. With a heightened urge to protect her son, Chloe sees danger in every situation. She starts to hear voices, the humming of a childhood lullaby and sees flashes of a strange entity around her child. Convinced that the entity is real, Chloe will do everything in her power to protect her son. Is she haunted by evil or is it just the baby blues?
“The Lullaby” is directed by South African director Darrell Roodt. The film goes over rather taboo topics and opens with a woman explaining the legend. “The priest and the mid-wife would make certain the baby would never see a sunrise.” The lullaby in the film is actually based on a real lullaby in South Africa and I spoke with Actress and star Reine Swart about the lullaby. The director shows topics that may be taboo and tormenting to some but for some reason you cannot stop watching this film.
We watch a woman watch her baby meet its demise over the edge of cliff. Cut to what seems to be now. Chloe played by Reine Swart is in a delivery room. A typical horror-film hospital/delivery room in which we are presented with not enough light, not enough people walking around the hospital but a very convincing Reine playing Chloe who is in labor and screaming in pain. She is sweating and looks terrified. Her on-screen mom Ruby played by Thandi Puren is hovering over her demanding that she “push” and “you have to push this baby out!” She is like an overwhelming coach screaming at you on the side lines but she seems to mean well.
Thandi is absolutely incredible in this film. Finally we hear a screaming, crying baby enter the world and Chloe looks as she has left her body. They go to hand the baby to her and she slowly turns her head away from the baby. This would be the post-partum that Reine said she did research about to portray Chloe. Her eyes look vacant and she looks like a shell as her mom holds the baby. Chloe may have seen “Rosemary’s Baby” and knows the outcome? (or not)
Moving along! Baby, Mom and Chloe are making the journey home. “Through the woods to grandma’s we go!” They are driving through a wooded area and Darrell’s shots are so good. It gives you an instant feel of so much is going to go wrong. Then, let’s talk about the lullaby! (“Step on his head and make sure he’s dead.”) Apparently it folklore that the women who were raped in concentration camps by British soldiers, then gave birth to babies, the lullaby “Siembaba” originated. It is a terrible lullaby but there is something that makes you understand the evil went on and goes on in the world.
We are still driving! The baby looks happy. Chloe, not so much. The way Chloe looks at Ruby when she starts singing the lullaby is priceless. They arrive at a country type home and Chloe is carrying the baby but looks uncomfortable and out of sorts. There is a nursery set up. The back and forth banter and scenes with Reine and Thandi are intense.
Ruby unpacks and Chloe seems almost scared of the baby yet worried. It is slightly scary though watching Ruby hold the kid. Ruby and Chloe go back and forth some more and discuss where the father is. Ruby is now Joan Crawford but with sincere intensity. Reine’s painstaking way to play Chloe makes you feel for her. She kind of want to give her a hug. (Maybe a rosary and a fluffy pillow.) In the darkness, the house becomes a character in the film. The eerie shots and creepy tones. We find Chloe in the nursey with the baby. Trying to get the baby to sleep.
She begins humming a song which sounds like the lullaby and Chloe is now asleep. (Wait, wasn’t the baby supposed to go to sleep first?) Don’t worry though, Ruby is there to rescue the baby and put it carefully in its crib and also give Chloe a lecture.
There is a slow pace but it is a scary pace because you do not expect what happens to happen. Chloe is now working on being a mother and she hears odd static on the baby monitor. (Of course, why not?) Chloe should call someone, the police, and an exorcist? Anyone. There is static on the TV, the baby monitor and Chloe looks petrified. There are jump-scares but if you are an advanced Horror fan you can handle this. She is now walking around hallways in a house that never seems to end. (How do these houses have so many rooms?) She grabs a weapon and all of the sudden another….. Jump-scare. Adam (Deanre Reiners) arrives and pounds on the door. But at least Chloe had a weapon! (Don’t answer the doors! Haven’t we learned, Horror community?) Adam seems sweet, possibly too sweet. We have not decided yet. They sit down and both look tense and tired.
The crying baby interrupts the conversation. Chloe seems frantic and Adam looks in shock. (Not sure why?) The psychological things this film does sort of messes with the mind. You are still not sure what the monster is? Is it human? Is it the baby? Is it Chloe? The darkness and terror that you see on Chloe’s face.
Again we see Thandi turn into Joan Crawford, she is such a powerful presence. Chloe also seems to be seeing things or is she? It is hard to tell in this film. The terror and what is lurking is not seen so that kind of makes it a lot scarier. Reine does a lot in slow motion, sort of slow paced moves which adds to the fright because she is moving at a pace so fast when she is scared. She all of the sudden slows down to little things that are important to the characters and what is happening.
We find Chloe sleeping and having nightmares. She sees a horrible image of something happen to the baby. Now, we see Chloe avoiding the baby and what could be the post-partum hitting her. She is almost scared of the baby. Now we meet Dr. Timothy Reed (Brandon Auret) who may or may not be paying some tribute to Buffalo Bill? His eyes are intense. It is the first thing you notice and the light humming he is doing.
Small details like this make characters more fascinating. He also seems to know when people are at his door without them even having to knock! (Where was he at in “The Strangers?”) He is intense, yet subtle in a Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dr. Hannibal Lecter sort of way.
Everything is neatly placed and we discover Ruby is getting her “Nurse Jackie” on with medication with “no side effects.” Again, the small details and coping with butterflies.
This film is beyond fascinating. It is scary but psychologically scary. Chloe is alone with the baby and doing some baby grooming. This was a tense, sort of maybe you want to turn away or get a fluffy pillow? I can’t tell you how to handle this film! Now, we see what looks like the woman from the beginning of the film tormenting Chloe some more because she has not completely lost her mind yet.
It still makes you think are you seeing things? Is Chloe seeing things and why is Ruby talking to the doctor and not Chloe? Ruby confides in the doctor and semi, maybe accuses abuse or how the baby has bruises and more? Ruby seems on edge now too. Darrell really did a good job of making each character different and tormented in their own ways. Now, the doctor wants to see Chloe.
There is a deep description of how Chloe is feeling. It is scary in a way. The thing that makes this film interesting is every one of these characters has flaws and looks tense and they are trying to get through whatever is happening. The shots Darrell does are incredible. He doesn’t just focus on faces but the twitches and the way they have their hands. The light and dark that shadows the characters.
The subject matter in the film is deep. It is stuff that people could actually go through. Things that could happen. Reine and Thandi are so good with the back and forth.
“You think I’m losing my mind.” Chloe blankly stares at the doctor as she says this. The way they touched on the subjects in the film shows the progression and what can happen. Adam begins to explain some of the history and now you sort of feel the story is coming together. Despite Adam seeming to care about Chloe, he still gets that oh, let me continue to tell you horrible stories despite what I have seen you do so far look on his face.
Remember the jump-scares! I don’t think I will ever look at a lullaby the same again in my life. Slowly we learn more and the folklore becomes scarier. Chloe becomes a semi-psychologist and this film does not get less creepy. You see a little less tension with Chloe.
Now, it just gets insane. (I feel the need to lock up all my electronics) This is genuinely frightening because this is a taboo topic of what could happen, maybe not as drastic but for Darrell to take such a risk and make this film it shows his talent. The actors also show more than talent. The situations they are in. I understand now when Reine said, she had to go “bad places.” Real life can be trippy as is.
There is a slight scene if you catch it that gives off “The Exorcist” vibe only for a slight second. You must watch this movie. I also sort of kind of maybe don’t trust Adam. He keeps emphasizing to her that “you left” but with an undertone and hints of anger. (Again, don’t hitchhike) You can just feel it watching this movie, you can feel something bat shit crazy is going to happen and it is just going to get worse and no one is going to want to listen to lullaby’s.
Now, we see the terror, the torment. What Chloe went through? It is truly horrific. This films touches on so many vastly horrific subjects but in a way it is psychological and it shows the massive torment a person can go through.
It is “just a movie” but also the monsters may not be who you think they are. The slow motion is terrifying too because you think this is happening? How do you escape from what is in your mind or what type of monster is really lurking? Overall, I cannot stop watching this film. It is interesting to see a film with a story, with characters that are vulnerable, suffering and dealing with what could be mental illness, dealing with things that happen and to see a director take a risk like this. Despite Chloe’s tragedy, Ruby is still pushing. It is also the worst feeling in the world when something horrible happens and people treat you like you are crazy.
This seems to be something Chloe is dealing with. This film did not need any more characters. It did not need anything more. It is incredible and scary to the point of you do not know what it real, what is there, who is good? Who is bad? It is insanity but in a creepy, good way.
A traumatic, dramatic ending is something that you may or may not have expected. Chloe does something beyond unthinkable and shocking. There still seems to be someone or something that is causing some torment for her. The eerie cries, the tortured soul of Chloe and a need for a grown ass horror fan to check all the locks, make sure electronics are turned off and grab the rosary beads and a fluffy pillow just for safe measures.
“The Lullaby” was incredible. Reine made this film. Her presence and torment were divine yet sad. YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE THE ENDING!!!!!
PS; Watch till the end to hear this lullaby. It is unreal.